Worst A&E waits and longest treatment list in NHS Wales history – under Labour
Wales experienced its worst-ever A&E waiting times last month – all the while NHS treatment lists have reached record heights for the 22nd month in a row and ambulance services are in turmoil.
Latest Welsh NHS data for February showed the highest ever number of patients waiting for treatment with 691,885 on patient pathways – over 140,000 more than the same time last year – leaving 1-in-5 Welsh people on the waiting list.
The number of people waiting over two years is now over 64,000, more than trebling since August 2021. The median waiting time for that same month in Wales was 23 weeks compared to 13 in England, while 1-in-4 Welsh patients wait over a year for treatment, only 1-in-20 do so in England.
Additional figures showed over a third (35%) of patients had to wait over the four hour target to be seen in A&E last month – the worst figure for the Labour-run Welsh NHS on record.
In England and Scotland, the equivalent figures were 28% and 34%, respectively. The Welsh target to get 95% admittances seen in four hours has never been met in its 13-year existence.
Statistics also revealed that:
- Cardiff & Vale health board was the worst performing area in the nation against the four-hour A&E target, seeing only 58% in four hours, followed by North Wales’ Betsi Cadwaladr health board (59%);
- Only 44% of Ysbyty Glan Clwyd’s emergency patients had to wait over four hours, making it the worst performing site in Wales;
- Nearly 11,000 patients waited over 12 hours in Welsh hospitals, a 57% increase since March 2021; and
- Those aged over 85 spent an average of eight hours to be seen in A&E.
When it came to ambulance performance in March, only 51% of responses to immediately life-threatening calls arrived within eight minutes, down from 55% the month before. The target of 65% of red-calls reaching their patient within eight minutes has not been reached in over 18 months.
Only 17.3% of amber call patients – which include strokes – were reached within 30 minutes, down by over 5 percentage points since February.
The slowest ambulances were in Dyfed’s Hywel Dda health board area with only 43.2% arriving within the eight-minute target of a red-call and only 1-in-8 coming to the scene within half an hour of an amber case in Cwm Taf Morgannwg health board area.
The news comes on the day the Welsh NHS Confederation, which represents NHS services, told the BBC that emergency departments were facing "the most serious pressure we've probably ever seen with the number of people coming through the front door with serious conditions,” and that ambulance service was also under "enormous pressure".
Commenting, Welsh Conservative and Shadow Health Minister Russell George MS said:
“After Labour’s management of the NHS hit new lows as waiting times reached new heights last autumn, the people of Wales expected things to get better from there, not worse.
“But here we are on the verge of NHS waiting lists breaking its own record on a monthly basis for two years, A&E waits at their worst-ever, with ambulance responses not far behind – all the more dispiriting when things are getting better in England.
“Every one of these cases is more than a mere statistic – it is a person languishing in pain wondering how the public services they pay for have been so badly mismanaged. That person in one in every five: family, friends, colleagues – you will know one of them if you are not one of them yourself.
“Labour need to get a grip on the NHS and stop breaking all the wrong records.”